Play the Man -- By: Kevin DeYoung

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 16:2 (Fall 2011)
Article: Play the Man
Author: Kevin DeYoung

Play the Man

Kevin DeYoung

Senior Pastor

University Reformed Church (RCA)

East Lansing, Michigan

Some of you have probably followed Effemigate—the recent controversy to follow Seattle Pastor Mark Driscoll. The timeline looks like this: last Spring Driscoll posted something on Facebook about effeminate worship leaders. Christian blogger Rachel Held Evans called Driscoll a bully. Over at the World blog, Anthony Bradley criticized Evans’ comments as libel. Even Brian McLaren added his two cents with a predictable morality tale about two kinds of “evangelicals.” In a subsequent post Driscoll called his Facebook line “a flippant comment.” He reports that his executive elders sat him down and challenged him “to do better by hitting real issues with real content in a real context.” This is wise counsel. Driscoll’s Facebook comment was bound to create more heat than light. It was an unwise way to talk about a serious issue.1

I don’t need to say anything more about the controversy itself. Like most web-storms, this one blew over quickly. But the issues under the issue (as Driscoll puts it) are important and worth considering.

To that end, let me suggest three general principles that should guide our discussion of biblical manhood.

(1) We must be aware which way the cultural winds are blowing. The reason for this awareness is not to go adrift with the culture, but to understand the times. In most American cities—especially cool cities like Seattle or Austin or New York—the ideas of male headship and female submission, or even gender distinctions in general, are strange, if not outright offensive. It’s safe to say the default position in America is not the biblical view of men and women. So wise faithful pastors should not be closet complementarians—who believe and do the right things when push comes to shove—but candid complementarians. If we don’t address these issues head on, the world will press thousands of Christians into its mold.

Of course, the flip side of this cultural awareness should be a real desire for winsome, well-seasoned speech. If the cultural winds are blowing against us, hoisting our sails to catch the breeze is wrong. But this doesn’t mean spitting into the wind is a good idea. There are occasions for provocation, but careful, patient, forthright instruction will usually gain the best hearing.

2. We need to be careful we don’t equate our preferred type of masculinity with biblical manhood. I know conservatives want to push back the tide of feminism and fight against the emasculation of men in our culture, but offering stereot...

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